NoteTaking in Class and What it is Like
Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 25, 2007
Apart from all the ooh’s and aah’s and the surreptitious looks, what is it like to take notes in class on a tablet PC? I remember the frantic anticipation I had when I ordered my first tablet. Having only scribbled on one owned by an acquaintance, I had no idea what it would be like to take notes on one. My only experience with “handwriting” was on a PDA, and that was not really flattering.
To those debating whether to get one, let me put all your anxieties to rest. It is absolutely totally worth it :). Now that in the typical college style I have stated my conclusion, let me go ahead and support it.
Does it fell like paper when you write on it ?
Its different, but better. Its a little smoother than paper, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Besides I love writing on my tablet, so as a result I take copious notes. Earlier I would only write what I felt was absolutely necessary, but now I write down almost everything. The pen flows smoothly and the writing is instant, no lags on the modern tablet.
What about Converting Notes and Handwriting Recognition ?
You have a tablet, why do you want to convert notes to typed text? Handwriting recognition works well if are browsing the web in tablet mode but if you want to convert class notes, forget it. Apart from conversion issues ( bad handwriting !!!) you loose most of your formatting. So stick with your handwriting. I am sure you can read it 🙂.
In Theory you want this to happen
What actually happens
Thus handwriting recognition works for small neatly written text. For hurried class notes, which sometimes even I find difficult to read, I shouldn’t really expect the computer to be able to convert it, should I?
Am I paperless ?
Relatively paperless. I still have to print my homework. Unfortunately professors don’t accept email attachments :(. And don’t forget to tell them that you have a tablet and thats why your Homework is printed !!. Most professors agree to email you the handouts if you ask them, or if you are willing you can just go ahead and scan them in. One note has an inbuilt OCR, enabling you to search the text withing images. All in all, it cuts down the paper clutter by 80%, while increasing organization efficiency ten-fold.
How do I take Notes? What software do I use ?
ONE NOTE, need I say anything else? For those wondering what one note is, it is part of Microsoft Office. It is the best there is for note taking. Once you start using it, you’ll never use anything else. Apart from One Note there aren’t many other tablet specific software you’ll need ( unless you plan on drawig /art).
What about Gaming ?
The big question I had when I decided to get a tablet was “Would it mean the end of all gaming” ? Thankfully the absence of a separate graphics card (on most tablets) does not mean you can’t play an occasional game. Given you won’t have superb graphics, but FIFA 08 runs beautifully on mine. So all I need to carry is my controller, and I am all set when I need a break :). As long as you game once in a while and don’t care a lot about high definition graphics, you should be fine.
Below is a screenshot of FIFA running on my tablet.
Having had only the HP tc4400 ( you get get them for a bargain at the HP refurb outlet) I can’t really make an accurate judgement as to which tablet you should purchase. However a few pointers
- Most tablets are 12″. Trust me you don’t want a bigger one. Buy an external monitor instead. Any bigger and you’ll be crying about how big and heavy it is to carry around.
- Waccom v/s FinePoint : A few of Gateway models have Finepoint technology while most others use Waccom Enabled pen. What is the difference? From my research (note I don’t have first hand experience) it appears that Finepoint doesn’t have any pressure sensitivity. For note taking this shouldn’t make much of a difference. But for those wanting to use it for drawing, art etc. this may be an issue. So for simple note taking going with the Gateway’s Finepoint tablet may be cost saving.
- The new
HPCompaq TC 1100HP TX1000 ( Thanks Barbara for pointing out the mistake) is NOT ideal for notetaking. It uses neither Finepoint nor Waccom, but has a touchscreen and a stylus. If you want a computer with a flip screen and very occasional tablet features then go for it, otherwise stay away.
So go ahead and invest in that Tablet. You won’t be making a mistake :).
Let me know if there are any other issues you want addressed.